Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Physiologically compatible artificial cells

Advanced drug deliveryPhysiological artificial cellsSmart therapeuticsStimuli-responsive liposomes


The invention is a genetically-controlled, stimuli-responsive (nano)bioreactor, i.e. artificial cells, that can produce proteins and release cargo materials after synthesizing the therapeutics. The invention is compatible with and/or operates under physiological conditions, can be used as smart drug delivery devices, influences both eukaryotic and bacterial cells within the host organisms.

Technical features

The invention uses an optimized cell-free transcription-translation machinery to synthesize the drug molecules and/or polypeptides. The components are encapsulated into stable lipid-based containers which are responsive to external signals. The cargo delivery is typically achieved by pore forming proteins, which allow the diffusion of therapeutics. The artificial cells can be repurposed to monitor the host metabolism and extracellular signals for responding to the changes in the host. Proteins can be produced and released, as well as neurotransmitters, hormones, and other types of physiological molecules. Three examples of such kind are given in the present invention as serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Its applications would vary from intervention of the human diseases, either microbial or host-derived, such as cancer, to cell-signalling and metabolism-associated diseases. The technology can also integrate with plant cells and crops to maturate, enhance the yields and improve the resistance to pathogens.

Possible Applications

  • Targeted and stimuli-responsive synthesis;
  • Release of therapeutics;
  • Alteration of host physiology without genetic tools;
  • Intervention of cancer, metabolic, signalling and neurological disorders;
  • Release and delivery of genome editing tools, growth factors, and cytokines to aid host immunity.


  • Artificial cells can sense the external signals, synthesise and release the therapeutics only when and where needed;
  • The technology is physiologically compatible and can be adapted for tissue targeted drug delivery;
  • Artificial cells integrate with the host-microbiome and can work with plants.